Sunday, January 25, 2015

How to Prevent Work-Out Injuries

While I was on fitness hiatus following my bunion surgery, my gym added Les Mill’s high impact body attack to the lineup.  My gym buddies raved about this class; some began taking it several times a week claiming it was the best workout our gym offered. Unfortunately, seven months later when I was finally able to return to impact classes my buddies were no longer in attendance.  They now refer to this class as cheerleading on steroids and attribute it to their newly acquired knee, hip, feet and back pain.



The last thing I wanted to do was injure myself.  I have experienced four exercise related injuries in the past, each one taking months to heal, but I had to try this class at least once.
I let the instructor know prior to class I was a newbie, so she provided modifications throughout the class.  I chose the lower impact movement for almost every exercise and still found it to be one of the most intense workouts I’ve ever had. At one point, I thought if I’m not careful I’m going to puke or pee my pants. Oddly I did like this class and wanted to take it again.

Afterwards I told the instructor about my friends who claim body attack was hard on their joints and that I feared injury.  

Her recommendation:
She believes I will remain injury free if I continue to modify the exercises until my core is stronger. Working out with a weak core causes some exercisers to not align their body properly causing awkward, jarring movements that put extra strain on muscles, ligaments and tendons. This is most likely what happened to my friends.

A few weeks later this same instructor pulled me aside after class and told me I was the one she was speaking to when she kept saying straighten your back and tighten your stomach muscles during the plank exercise. My stomach had been sagging causing me to arch my lower back. This she claims is what leads to lower back pain. She then demonstrated a plank beginning on her knees sucking in her belly button and contracting her glutes.

By Jaykayfit (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
On this particular day I had been extremely tired, but forced myself to attend class anyway.  My body was too tired to keep my stomach engaged causing improper form.  Honestly, even when I’m not tired I rarely perform a plank with proper form.  I’m always in a rush; drinking water, arranging my towel and mat – then scrambling to get in the plank position to keep up with the class. No wonder my plank is always out of alignment.  
This was an eye-opening moment – I was injuring myself because I wasn’t listening to my body, wasn’t using proper form, wasn’t modifying like I was supposed to and was most likely performing too many reps.

This reminded me of the friend who injured her knee working out in a boot camp class.  Her orthopedic told her he wasn’t fond of boot camp classes, would never recommend someone begin an exercise program with one and felt exercisers over the age of 45 should not participate in them.  His preferred method of exercise was walking.  He said if you walked every day for 30 minutes and maintained a healthy diet (fruit, vegetables and proteins) you would lose weight over time.  He would recommend adding additional low-impact exercises only after a patient walked every day for several months.

As for me – I’ve stopped taking the body attack class.  My gym now offers only one evening session and it is not at a convenient time. January has been extremely busy at work so I’ve missed most of my fitness classes except for an occasional Zumba. I did take a half-hour strength class last week. I performed the entire pushup and plank series on my knees. I feel like I’m starting over again, but this time I’m listening to my body and paying attention to my alignment.

How do you prevent workout injuries?


Sunday, January 18, 2015

Reading to Understand Life’s Transitions Featured on Be Our Guest Fridays

This week I was delighted to be the guest blogger on Tanya at Mom's Small Victories and Helen at My Novel Opinion's sites for their #BeOurGuestFridays feature. In my post I share how I read to understand life's transitions. Head on over to learn the books that have helped me the most.  Don't forget to let me know what books have helped you understand life's transitions.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Quick Tips To Get Started With Aqua Aerobics

photo credit: Old Shoe Woman via photopin cc
I have been a member of my local gym for ten years, during this time I've injured myself four times.  Each injury has taken months to heal, forced me to stop exercising or modify my exercise routine for weeks. One injury even required me to see a physical therapist.  One of the goals of my Live Healthy on a Budget Challenge is to remain injury free.  To do so Kaitlin Gardner of An Apple a Day  suggested I try water aerobics. In today's post, she offers tips on how to get started:

I got started with aqua aerobics because I hurt my knee on the treadmill at the gym. My doctor recommended I not do high impact exercises while it healed, and suggested I look into water workouts. It was really easy to get started doing water workouts, and here are some things I learned.

What exactly is aqua aerobics? I have never been much of a swimmer, so I have virtually ignored the pool as a workout option for years. I did some checking, and found out that if you do an exercise in the water that raises your heart rate and provides a cardiovascular element, that qualifies as aqua aerobics. A guy in the gym who is a big runner told me that he regularly uses the water to cross train, and give his legs a rest from the running trail. I looked into it more, and found some great resources with more information:

What if I don’t swim? Several of my friends have asked this question, and the answer I give them is that you can still do a pool workout even if you don’t know how to swim. Most of the exercises are done in waist to chest deep water, and I have done an hour long routine and never gotten my shoulder length hair wet.

What do you like to do? A big part of starting with aqua aerobics is to decide what you want to do – what exercise do you like enough that it will keep you doing it? The reason for this question is that there are a lot of choices. Sometimes I’ll choose my workout depending on my mood and workout need. If I want a vigorous workout, there are kickboxing classes or the super sexy moves of a water Zumba class. If I want to relax and bleed off stress, I will go to an aqua yoga or tai chi class. If I feel like a solid cardio workout, I go aqua jogging or for a short session of treading water.

Try some things. If you’re not sure what you might like, try out a few different exercise options. A great place to start is with a group aqua aerobics class. An instructor will lead the class through a series of exercises that will work arms, legs, and provide a cardio component. It’s a good way to see what water workouts are like. The bonus – the water is an enjoyable place to be, so people smile a lot, and are very friendly in classes. I’ve made some great connections that way. If you’re not sure, go watch a class to see if it looks interesting.

Workouts by yourself. If you’re not into group exercises, there are some great things you can do on your own. One of my favorite water workouts, and easy to try, is aqua jogging. It’s great when it’s hot outside and I want to exercise. I go to the community pool when the lap lanes are open, and jump in one. I begin to move up and down one with my best jogging posture. Slow it down a bit, and now you’re on an aqua walk. It’s hard to tell, but when I’m doing a really strenuous workout in the water, I will sweat, so it’s important to stay well hydrated, just like you would on a running trail. I keep a water bottle at one end of the lane, and take a couple of sips each time I pass by.

The main thing with aqua aerobics is to just give it a try – you will very likely find a workout that gives you a solid workout and makes you smile at the same time.

Kaitlin Gardner started An Apple Per Day to explore her passion for a green living lifestyle, and healthy family living. She and her husband have just moved to rural Pennsylvania, where they enjoy exploring the countryside to discover interesting and out of the way places. She is also learning how to paint watercolors.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Healthy Reads – January 2015

As part of my 2015 challenge to live healthy on a budget, I plan to read several books promoting a healthy lifestyle throughout the year. During January the books I am reading are:

The Complete Beck Diet for Life: The Five-Stage Program for Permanent Weight Loss by Judith S. Beck:
This book was recommended to me by fellow blogger Joy Weese Moll who has read over 70 healthy lifestyle books. This was one of her favorites and helped her the most in figuring out how and if diet’s work. I’ve read about half the book so far and am currently mastering some of the required tasks before moving on to the final sections. I will write about what I’ve learned and if the tasks worked for me in future posts.

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Businessby Charles Duhigg
This was a popular book discussed around the blogosphere in 2014. I don’t recall who inspired me to read it this month, but I must say I am enjoying it so far.

French Women Don't Get Facelifts: The Secret of Aging with Style & Attitudeby Mireille Guiliano
I spotted this one on a display table at my local library. The title aligns well with my Make Women Count project. I read Guiliano’s book French Women Don't Get Fat previously and recall thinking nothing new here. Unfortunately my thoughts are been pretty much the same for this book, except it does discuss healthy habits more than I anticipated.  I hope to implement a few of her tips - most notably the breathing exercises - in the future.

Healthy Reading Challenges:
I discovered a Healthy Lifestyle Reading Challenge for 2015 hosted by Joy Weiss. The challenge is to read any book that supports your healthy lifestyle. Joy defines “health” as broadly as you need to improve your life — physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually during the 2015 calendar year. I am signing at the 10K: 10-14 books level.

I am also joining Joy's New Year's Resolution Reading Challenge. This one challenges us to read one to four books that will stimulate action on our goals during the month of January. I am signing up at the Committed: 3 books level.

In other reading news:
Travel the World in Books is hosting a read-a-long of Barbara Kingsolver’s book The Poisonwood Bible. This book which I read several years ago for a real life book club generated an interesting conversation. If you’ve been meaning to read this one, I highly recommend joining TanyaBecca and I for this read-a-long.

Mark Zuckerburg starts a book club:
Thanks to Allison of The Book Wheel for informing me of Mark Zuckerburg’s new book club. According to the club's Facebook page: We will read a new book every two weeks and discuss it. The books will emphasize learning about new cultures, beliefs, histories and technologies. The first book is The End of Power: From Boardrooms to Battlefields and Churches to States, Why Being In Charge Isn’t What It Used to Beby Moisés Naím and sounds interesting. I placed a hold on it at the library, but doubt I will have it in time for the discussion. 

What are your reading plans for January? Are you planning on participating in reading challenges during 2015?

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Live Healthy on a Budget

2014 was not my best year on this blog or in my daily life. I was consumed with a family member's illness, work and other life inconveniences; flat tires, broken computers, an aging sick dog, etc. I half-heartedly attempted to reinvent my career, but deep down I knew I would not be leaving my job and starting over any time soon. I even contemplated quitting blogging.

I know that I am at my happiest when I’m challenging myself and learning something new, so with the start of 2015 it is time for a new blog and life project:
In 2015 - I am challenging myself to live healthy on a budget. 
 I came up with the idea when I read about the 1% rule (every week try to get better 1% physically, emotionally, mentally) in James Altrucher’s post the secrets of personal finance.  I’ve always had an interest in healthy living and fitness, include a personal finance element and this may be a project I can stick with. Much better than my organizational resolutions  from last year. My plan is to work towards becoming 1% healthier each week and share my progress here.

Who knows! If I’m still writing about living healthy on 12/31/15, I may rebrand this blog. In case you haven’t noticed, I am losing interest in writing about work and careers.

Tune in next week when I will be sharing what healthy living books I will be reading in January. Do you have a suggestion?
What is your favorite tip to live healthy on a budget?

Sunday, December 28, 2014

I Admit It – I Am a Nervous Nellie

I’m not sure when my husband began referring to me as a “Nervous Nellie,” but he has been doing so for quite a while now. I mostly ignore him when he does this not allowing him to deflect my anxiousness. That is until my mom got cancer. 

Last March, my mom was diagnosed with clear-cell carcinoma, an aggressive form of uterine cancer. She required in home care after undergoing a radical hysterectomy, so I volunteered to stay with her for a few days post-surgery.  Before sending her home from the hospital, a nurse spent a few minutes with the two of us demonstrating how to change my mom’s catheter, teaching her how to inject a syringe containing blood thinner into her stomach and giving me a breathing tube she was to breath into every hour to alleviate her coughing.

That evening my sister who works in health care pointed out I had not changed my mother’s catheter properly, my mom was refusing to eat and managing all of her medications was turning out to be a more daunting task than I had anticipated.

To say I was nervous when the visiting nurse called to check on us the following morning was probably an understatement. She asked me a few questions, recommended I purchase a probiotic and offered to stop in. After meeting my mom and talking to her, this nurse turned to me and said, “You are a Nervous Nellie aren’t you?” I couldn’t help but be amused, perhaps my husband has been right all along; a fact he enjoyed immensely when I shared her comment with him when I returned home.

The remainder of the year did not ease my Nervous Nellie tendencies. In August my Mom was in a car-accident on her way to a family get-together to celebrate her cancer-free diagnosis. No one was hurt and the accident had not been her fault, but this party may have been the worst family celebration I have ever attended. As the year progressed we learned my mom now has two hernias resulting from her radiation treatments and will most likely have to wear Depends for the rest of her life; apparently the radiation also damaged her bowel. The good news is my mom continues to remain cancer free.

As I re-read my 2014 goals, I realize other than keeping a gratitude journal (the only resolution I managed to stick to) they were all focused on trying to be more perfect – don’t eat sugar, be organized, suffer for 15 minutes, find my Calcutta – no wonder I am so nervous. Perhaps my 2015 resolutions should be to kayak more, spend more time playing with my dogs, going to movies and reading for pleasure.  

Are you a “Nervous Nellie?” If so, what do you do to relax?

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Early Retirement One Year Anniversary

One of my former co-workers had been miserable in his position for several years – actually he had been perfectly happy with his job until our company hired another family member and put this co-worker in charge of him. The new employee was like a bull in a China store and my co-worker was forced to work long hours attempting to control the damage.  

He began talking regularly about retiring early and asking questions about finances related to retirement. My post, "Should I pay off my house with 401(k) monies?" was for him. He did end up using his 401(k) money to pay off his home. His wife had retired at age 58. I am not sure, but think she receives a pension from the hospital where she worked for 30-years as a nurse. She also has a part-time job working one day a week for her church. There would be no pension for my co-worker, just his 401(k).  My co-worker’s biggest retirement concern was the cost of their health care. He went over and over the numbers eventually concluding he couldn’t afford to retire early.

Then a good friend of his died at 61 from cancer and his 90-year old mother in-law stopped recognizing him when he visited her in the nursing home. He began not caring if he ran out of money; he surmised from his mother-in-law’s experience that when he is 90 he probably won't know if he is living in a dump eating cat food (his exact words) or in a nice home receiving expert care. He retired on his 62nd birthday not even taking my advice to work until the end of December to receive his holiday pay.  

I thought of him on his birthday a few weeks ago and sent an email congratulating him on first retirement anniversary. I also asked if there had been any financial surprises he had incurred or words of wisdom he could give me since my husband plans to join him in retirement at the end of the year and I still plan to retire early. Here is his response:
THANK YOU for remembering my retirement anniversary. Retirement is one word: AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Between kids, grandkids, remodeling, gardening, dogs, travel and sleep there is not enough time in the day for everything. I can honestly say I have yet to have a boring minute, hour or day. I think one of the biggest differences between work and retirement is stress. For "me" retirement equals ZERO stress. Physically and mentally I feel twenty years younger. During the first couple of months I would feel "kinda" guilty when I would encounter people that were still working. No more. I paid my dues and have arrived. I used to look at retirement as winning the "race". Now I look at it as just "finishing" the race.
Notice he doesn’t even acknowledge the financial aspects of retirement. As my husband’s benefits come to an end, I am forced to enroll in my company’s inferior and more expensive benefit plans. Add in the $800 I just spent to replace my two-year old computer that crashed and my nervous Nellie tendencies are operating at full capacity.

Then I look at how stressful my husband has been in his job this past year, the long hours he worked including Saturdays and the occasional Sunday. How much I enjoyed him being laid-off last winter. How far behind we've gotten on basic home maintenance and cleaning. A real vacation; what is that? Then I think of my co-worker and how awesome his year has been. I want that for my husband and eventually for myself. My co-worker is right in that we don’t know what the future holds – whether we will be blessed with a long healthy life or succumb too early to a horrible disease or that we will end up penniless in a nursing home. As to our finances, I will never be able to control everything; appliances will need replacing, medical premiums will increase and I will need procedures like gum recession surgery. We have our 401(k) plans and we are maximizing his social security benefits by waiting until next year when he is 66 to begin collecting. If our finances become unmanageable we can always sell our home which is paid off. It is time for my husband to cross the finish line.

Are you retired?  Do you have any words of wisdom?